My Blue Estwing - My Favorite Hammer Tool for Feminine Fingered Electrical Work & Other Pounding
Why I Bought My Estwing Hammer & The Significance of My Assertion in the Title
After two decades of homemaking I read an article about a housewife who wired her family's new house. That article was enough to cause me to assert myself in a way from which there was no return.
My family would soon build our second new house. I determined that I would do the electrical wiring. The Estwing hammer was one of my first purchases for the wiring project.
I chose the Estwing for its size, comfortable in my long slender grasp. It is lighter weight, and slightly shorter than the full-size hammer of the same brand. The color of the cushioned hand grip became significant to me as a symbol of constructive power.
We were about to embark on a new chapter of our family life. The book of our family life change commenced with the sale of the first home we built.
Our children were primarily raised there, and the move to a new area 200 miles north carried us through the subsequent chapters: buying land, selecting the house plans, modifying the plans, moving to camp and finalizing the electrical wiring plans, erecting the shell of the house, and doing the wiring - then flipping the light switches, and celebrating the light!.
image credits: all photos are my own
My Estwing Electrician's Hammer Turns 29!
This blue hammer remains my favorite tool. It is solidly built, but small enough for easy handling. My electrical wiring project became a reality 29 years ago and the hammer is still going strong. It's in use every week, if not every day. I keep it in the drawer of my worktable in my art studio.
Have You Got One Too?
Do you own an Estwing Electrician's Hammer?
Great Estwing Hammer Might as Well Wear a Wing
The wing label didn't last long but as far as I'm concerned this hammer always feels like it's carried on wings. The balance is perfect for my grip. I used the hammer all day long for weeks of working on the new house.
After that big project was tied up I turned to picture framing and it was just the right fit for me. I could have used a tack hammer but I preferred the Estwing. Since then I always know where my hammer is, using it all around my place.
You will value this hammer as much as I do, for its solid build, and versatility in tight places.
Viewpoint From the First Home We Built - my idea gestated looking out our windows at these hills
It felt like we already lived on the edge of the wilderness, looking to the south from our home that we put on the market, for sale. Domestic duties accomplished, one day, I settled down with a magazine that highlighted womens' accomplishments, and felt my life change forever, as I read about the woman who learned how to wire a house.
To myself I said: "I'm a woman; we're going to build a second house; I'll do the wiring!" From then on I refused to limit my activities to those within the feminine realm.
This lens is a story of my house wiring project, back in 1983, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. In order to do the wiring I needed a hammer of my own, so I went shopping for one the day I purchased all the wiring supplies, at an electricians' outfitters shop in the biggest city, 100 miles away from our new home site.
We Cut the Driveway Into the Mountainside
While I waited for the man with the Cat to bulldoze a cut into the side of the mountain, I purchased three electrical wiring books for the project. I went over the blueprints and studied the books, from the apartment we maintained in town.
Before the Wiring, the Plumbing
Since making my decision to tackle every part of the building project that I could manage, I got introduced to plumbing parts. I took the blueprints to the plumbing supply desk at the tiny town's hardware store. The clerk helped me select the necessary drain plumbing parts. He rattled off the instructions on what to put where.
I was still baffled, and asked him to lay them out in order on the floor. I'm a visual artist, and I drew the system parts on a scrap of paper. Then I packed them up and took them to the home site. The photo shows me consulting my drawing in preparation to assemble the whole first floor drain system.
The House is Up & I Begin Wiring
We lived in a campsite we built in a secluded spot above the house. The photo shows an idea of the size of the house. It was two full floors with an attic room extension above the second floor. I planned for two 200 amp panels. One was for household use and the second would handle a future garage with a workshop, and an art studio on the second floor.
Grab Your Hammer and Wire Your House Too
Have you ever wired a house?
Revising Wiring Circuit Routes
We still lived in camp when my mom and step-father brought their motor-home for a long visit. Mom cooked and kept me company and consulted with me on proposed circuits.
The double exposure photograph shows me, in my feminine bow-trimmed hat, and my mother looking on and encouraging me, silhouetted in front of the view looking out southward from the first floor windowless den.
My Leather Tool Belt With My Hammer
My leather tool belt was a regular part of my clothing during the electrical wiring project. I scarcely had it out of my hands. Once I marked and labeled the routes, for boxes and switches and lights, I began nailing up the wiring boxes.
This photo shows my daughter in silhouette, leaving the downstairs family room, superimposed on a shot of the ranch where we boarded our horses until we moved to the campsite above the house. For the longest time I thought the silhouette was of me, but as I review photographs from that period, it's clear that it's Jennifer, because it's her size and her hairstyle. Look at the big bush on my head in the next picture.
A string of wiring cable is visible near the bottom of the photograph. It has just been drawn through the holes I drilled in the studs.
With My Estwing Hammer Job is Complete
At the time that I had nearly finished the wiring job, my dad came to help get the house in shape for habitation for the winter. The men left me alone to finish the work, per my circuit plans.
Dad and I posed for this picture after the State Electrical Inspector passed the job. Dad was so proud he was really choked up. It was a truly memorable moment for us. Dad bent the huge cables that came from the power company and fed into the house because I couldn't get them to move. Otherwise, he left the job to me.
To me, my Estwing hammer remains a symbol of my strength and versatility, in expanding my skills into areas foreign to me.
It Snowed In September that Year - we still lived in tents in our camp
This photo shows the front end of the house. It was partially solar, with specially designed heat mirror windows. The upper windows, that went above the 2nd floor picture windows, had yet to be installed. I used my hammer for all three floors of wiring and for installing sheetrock, shelves, and various other tasks.
Should You Wire Your Own House
Should you wire your own house?
Yes, it's one great way to save a load of money on house building costs.
Before beginning any large wiring project, be sure to check with your region's electrical code. In our state the State's laws govern all electrical wiring projects, whether done by the homeowner, or by a private contractor.
Learn More About How to Wire a House
Do It Yourself Wiring Videos
Standard Romex Cable
My rolls of cable were wrapped in white insulating plastic, but they looked just the same. Inside the flat cable are variously colored wires. The black is the live power carrier wire, the white wire is the neutral one, and the unwrapped copper wire is the ground.
image credit: ArnoldReinhold
Romex Cable Caddy
Makes the wiring job much easier. It just rolls off the spool, when you want it.
What the Wiring Looks Like - it's like this under the switchplate
Like everyone who wires a house, the process involves stripping about 6" of insulation from the cable, and snipping it off. Then each color-coded wire is connected to the proper screw on the switch unit, prior to screwing the switches into the connector box, before mounting the switch plate.
You'll Need One of These
All-purpose sturdy crimping tool, for cutting wires to lengths after removing the inches of cable insulation. My best friend for wiring!